Category: film

Secret Streaming

Netflix launching in Australia has created a flurry of activity in the local video streaming market. From barely anything, we suddenly have a choice of many: Netflix, Stan1, Presto, Foxtel Play, and probably more.

The consequence of which is option paralysis - which service to use? The obvious way to decide is to make a list of what you want to watch, then go find the best match. Simple, right?

Strangely not. For reasons best known to themselves, most of the services don’t publish an episode guide. Netflix has a bare bones home page and no information about what is on. Stan is similar, though teases a few big name shows and movies. Foxtel apparently has thousands of hours of on demand content, but good luck finding out what those hours actually contain.

Presto at least provides a guide to what’s on, but unfortunately it is a mostly a woeful list of 3rd rate or ancient shows.

There are third party sites—at least for Netflix—which endeavour to provide what the first parties won’t, but it’s a very strange phenomena. Music subscription services all allow you to check out what’s available before signing up, and you’d never normally subscribe to something sight unseen2. Why the streaming secrecy when it comes to video?

  1. Stan gets a special award for terrible advertising. Overweight model, unicorns, puppy suits? Sign me up! 

  2. They all offer a free trial, which is one way to find out. But who wants to create usernames, passwords, and provide payment details, just to see what is on. 

The Hobbit ‘Tolkien edit’

That didn’t take long. ‘Tolkieneditor’ has cut Peter Jackson’s way too long Hobbit trilogy into a single four hour ‘Tolkien’ edit, that removes the fluff (Elves & Dwarves living together) and focuses on the core Bilbo storyline:

I felt that the story was spoiled by an interminable running time, unengaging plot tangents and constant narrative filibustering. What especially saddened me was how Bilbo (the supposed protagonist of the story) was rendered absent for large portions of the final two films.

Joins Harmy’s Star Wars Despecialized editions on the shelf.

It’s interesting to see the fan edit extend all the way to Steven Soderbergh with his black and white and silent Indiana Jones and 51 minute shorter 2001. Kind of like DJ remixes of classic tracks.

Letterboxd movies

Letterboxd, a site for tracking your movie viewing habits, has just opened it’s doors to all 1, having being in an invitation-only beta for some time.

It’s a great way of keeping tabs on your films — you can create lists, rate, review, and connect to friends also using Letterboxd. The design is top notch, and incorporates movie data and artwork from tmdb (a crowd sourced IMDB).

Best thing? They’re kiwis.

Definitely worth checking out if you’ve struggled to stay on top of your film history.

  1. Including a new ‘Pro’ option for $20/year. The main feature of Pro is Netflix integration, so not much use outside North America, but it’s a good way to support the site if you like it. 

Bourne vs Bond

The Die Hard essay below links to an interesting short comparison of Bond and Bourne, which suggests Bourne’s innate navigation of city space is what gives him the edge, as opposed to Bond’s reliance on gadgetry and overwhelming force:

Rather than Bond’s private infrastructure [of] expensive cars and toys, Bourne uses public infrastructure as a superpower. A battered watch and an accurate U-Bahn time-table are all he needs for a perfectly-timed, death-defying evasion of the authorities.

Bourne wraps cities, autobahns, ferries and train terminuses around him as the ultimate body-armor.

I love this. It unravels what I find appealing about the Bourne films. The Waterloo train station scene from The Bourne Ultimatum is a perfect example, and a scene that has long stuck in my mind due to Bourne’s superb spatial awareness and use of that space.

(Amazingly the scene wasn’t shot in a closed station - those aren’t extras wandering around).


Architectural Die Hard

Terrific BLDGBLOG essay by Geoff Manaugh on the unorthodox navigation of Nakatomi Plaza in Die Hard:

The majority of that film’s interest, I’d suggest, comes precisely through its depiction of architectural space: John McClane, a New York cop on his Christmas vacation, moves through a Los Angeles high-rise in basically every conceivable way but passing through its doors and hallways.

Over the course of the film, McClane blows up whole sections of the building; he stops elevators between floors; and he otherwise explores the internal spaces of Nakatomi Plaza in acts of virtuoso navigation that were neither imagined nor physically planned for by the architects.

Includes some scary stuff about the Israeli Defense Forces using the same techniques IRL.

(via @tcarmody)

Complete Bayhem: An oral history of Michael Bay

On the set of Pearl Harbour:

One day, I was on the way to meeting with Michael on a battleship at Ford Island. Complete Bayhem. I passed a squadron of Zeros chasing two P-40 fighter planes forty feet above the deck, guns blazing, followed by the camera ship. Then watched fireballs exploding on a nearby frigate as burning stuntmen leaped into the water. Then saw another Zero come around and buzz our battleship as Cuba Gooding Jr. fired back with a .50 caliber fifteen feet over my head. It wasn’t even 10 a.m.